Galapagos:Ecuador's Greatest Asset
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Indigenous Cultures
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador National Park
Ecuador Hotels
Protected areas Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Inti Raymi
Ecuador Hotels
Carnival in Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
World Bird Festival
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Adventure Travel
Ecuador Hotels
History of Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador: A Birder's Paradise
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuadorian Music
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Museums
Ecuador Hotels
 
Cultural Guayaquil
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Beaches & Coast
Ecuador Hotels
Esmeraldas Province
Ecuador Hotels
Guayaquil Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Guayas Province
Ecuador Hotels
Humpback Whales
Ecuador Hotels
Haciendas in the Coast
Ecuador Hotels
Interview to the people of Guayaquil
Ecuador Hotels
Manabí Province
Ecuador Hotels
Machalilla National Park
Ecuador Hotels
Panama Hats
Ecuador Hotels
The Sun's Route
Ecuador Hotels
The Coast of Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
 

All souls day in Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Adventure Travel
Ecuador Hotels
Angel Ecological Reserve
Ecuador Hotels
Banos Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Cloudforest Mindo
Ecuador Hotels
Climbing Cotopaxi
Ecuador Hotels
Candles, A Symbol of Resurrection
Ecuador Hotels
Cultural Cuenca
Ecuador Hotels
Cuenca Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Cuenca, World Cultural Heritage Site
Ecuador Hotels
Chiva Express
Ecuador Hotels
Cholas Cuencanas
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador, you'll need to know
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Cloud Forest
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador tourism news
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Railroad Train
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Haciendas
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Winter solstice
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Spanish Classes
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuadorian Distances
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador's Southern Highland
Ecuador Hotels
Guayasamín Museum
Ecuador Hotels
Holidays Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Handicraft in Cuenca
Ecuador Hotels
Holy Week in Quito
Ecuador Hotels
Inti Raymi in Ingapirca
Ecuador Hotels
Inti Raymi in northern Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Land of Hummingbirds
Ecuador Hotels
Loja Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Pawkar Raymi Festivities
Ecuador Hotels
Podocarpus Birds and its Reserve
Ecuador Hotels
Polylepis Forest - The paramo of El Angel
Ecuador Hotels
Quito: City of legends
Ecuador Hotels
Quito Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Quito's aerial ropeway (TeleferiQo)
Ecuador Hotels
Quito Cultural
Ecuador Hotels
Quito Botanical Garden
Ecuador Hotels
Quito Museums
Ecuador Hotels
Otavalo Imbabura Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Riobamba
Ecuador Hotels
San Rafael Waterfall
Ecuador Hotels
The Devil's Nose
Ecuador Hotels
Tsachilas - Colorados
Ecuador Hotels
The Andes of Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Thermals & SPAs
Ecuador Hotels
The Northern Highland
Ecuador Hotels
The Central Highland
Ecuador Hotels
Volunteer Work in Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Vilcabamba Nature Guide
Ecuador Hotels
Yamor Festivities Otavalo
Ecuador Hotels
 
Jungle Rainforest Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Ecuador Amazon Rainforest
Ecuador Hotels
Amazon Day
Ecuador Hotels
Chonta: From Indigenous Wisdom To Exclusive Design
Ecuador Hotels
 
Galapagos Islands
Ecuador Hotels
Galapagos Ecuador
Ecuador Hotels
Galapagos Islands History
Ecuador Hotels
Galapagos Foundations
Ecuador Hotels
Discover Galapagos
Ecuador Hotels
Protecting all the species of
the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador Hotels
 
Ecuador » General Information » Quito »
Holy Week in Quito
Related Pages
Events calendar quito
Mindo Cloudforest
Quito Cultural
Quito's aerial ropeway (TeleferiQo)
Quito Botanical Garden
Quilotoa Crater
Quito Map
Historic center of Quito
"El Quinde" EcoRoute
Guayasamín Museum
Holy Week in Quito
Land of Hummingbirds
Quito: City of legends
Museums in Quito
The Quito Sweets Of The Gods Tour

A Brief History From The Times Of The Colony To The Present Day
"A thousand saintly souls led the procession. a cortege of musicians masked and draped in purple robes. a multitude of negroes dressed uniformly in royal blue robes. two lines of nuns. a huge hubbub of individuals dressed in every sort of vestment, armed with sticks, sabres, swords, lances and lanterns to hand. These represented the Jews."

The description belongs to the work of the notable French naturalist Alcide D'Orbigny, who recorded in his work A Picturesque Voyage Across the Two Americas the amazement felt by the eyewitness account of his countryman, Raigecourt, during his Holy Week visit in 1841.

"These documents give an idea of the huge size of this procession, in which absolutely the whole of the city of Quito acted or watched. Nobody was left out!" explains Alfonso Ortiz Crespo, a historian of Quito and author of a work on Holy Week during the Spanish Colony. According to Crespo, soon after the establishment of the town in the 16th century, this Christian ceremony of remembrance and reflection became one of the most impressive and well attended throughout the Spanish Empire. Despite this fervour and popularity, the event fell foul of liberal ideology in the mid-19th century when President José María Urbina suppressed it entirely.

The celebration couldn't be completed rubbed from popular memory, and by the 20th century Holy Week had recovered its place in Quito society. In 1964, the chronicler of the city, Luciano Andrade Marín, wrote "Nothing was more grandiose or more solemn in Quito in the time of my grandparents than the Good Friday procession." His description of the celebration evokes "an entire legion of faithful penitents carrying thick ropes around their necks and even signs asking for mercy, who made their way on their knees, fainting at every turn. These were pursued by horrible devils who tempted the penitents, harsh-looking Jews, saintly souls in white robes, capricious dancers and float-bearers begging for alms". Andrade Marín assures us that the height of the tops of the cucuruchos ' hats (people wearing traditional conical, pointed-hat robes, like those worn in Spain and famously by the Klu-Klux Klan) touched the balconies of the city where citizens gathered in huge numbers to watch the impressive procession.

Brief bibliography

  • Quito, espacio para lo sagrado. Revista Patrimonio de Quito , Junio 2005, Fondo de Salvamento del Patrimonio Cultural de Quito
  • Luciano Andrade Marín. La lagartija que abrió la calle Mejía , Fondo de Salvamento del Patrimonio Cultural de Quito, 2003

Holy Week In QuitoHoly Week day by day: ceremonies and their meanings

Sunday, April 1 st thru Sunday, April 8 th
Father John Ramos, historian and member of the Franciscan convent of Quito, explains below the universal significance of each ceremony, as well as the local peculiarities that have been added down the centuries.

Palm Sunday
In Antiquity, when a king, governor or hero returned triumphantly to his home, the people would receive him with the leaves of the date palm which were synonymous with victory, and for the Church with martyrdom. When Jesus Christ arrived at Jerusalem, the people acclaimed him as a king and a multitude of children received him with palms and olive branches, the latter symbols of peace.

This entrance is remembered the world over on Palm Sunday. In America, the white palm is used, a species which grows in tropical climates, along with rosemary and basil leaves. Interestingly, due to Quito's long-standing tradition of crafts, people began to weave the palms. The most diverse forms imaginable were devised, ranging from crosses, baskets and flowers to butterflies and animals. With their palms and branches held high, the people of Quito welcome Jesus during a ceremony in which the palms are blessed. Later, the faithful take them home and place them in a special place in their houses. According to Father John, in times past people would burn the branches in their homes to ward off the storms and hailstorms which lashed the city.

In the San Francisco Convent (the largest and most important in the city) the branches are kept to be dried in the sun. They are then burnt along with blessed rosemary and their ashes are used later to mark the faithful ("ashes to ashes."). The procession of ornamental palms in the city on Palm Sunday is the sign of the beginning of the Easter festivities and one of the highlights of the week's events.

Holy Week In EcuadorTuesday: "Minga" of the Grains
This year, an old tradition of bringing the grains into the market for the preparation of the Fanesca soup will be evoked through a procession that will take place from San Marcos to San Francisco in Quito`s colonial center.

A "minga" is a get together of people from a community with work purposes. It is a tradition that is still widely practiced in Ecuador, especially among indigenous communities. During the Minga of the Grains procession, the "Jocheros" (people who bring grains to the market) will be accompanied by their cargo donkeys as well as by other traditional Quiteño characters.

The Fanesca Soup - A Mortal Sin During Holy Week?
During its most important week, the Christian world reflects upon the sacrifice of the Son of God. In Quito, thousands of people show their faith in the streets and churches, the bells toll in celebration and the cry of Hallelujahs echoes throughout the Andean capital. But at the table of the Quiteños it looks like Carnival all over again! For in Quito, Easter hails the time of the legendary fanesca soup. This soup of incomparable flavour is made up of all the grains and legumes that our generous Andean land proffers to its children. To this heady mix is added fish (remember that we're in the time of abstinence from meat), flour dumplings and boiled egg, served alongside an Andean take on mashed potato. The origins of this tradition are as diverse as its ingredients. Some studies suggest it is an Inca dish introduced to Ecuador when these people invaded from the south; others claim it was brought to the country by the first Christians; while another version will have you believe that a certain Juana invented it in a mountain hacienda during Colonial times ('Juanesca', in the style of Juana, became 'fanesca'). The less pious believe that the harvesting of grains and legumes in the Andean highlands simply combines fortuitously with the time of Lent - when a filling dish would have been just the ticket for peasants up and down the land. There are those who defend to their dying breath the religious element of fanesca : its dozen grains and legumes symbolise the 12 Apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel; the fish symbolises Christ and the way that his message feeds the Christian community. Amen to that!

While its origins are indeed intriguing, they inevitably play second fiddle to this Ecuadorian gastronomic delight as anyone who tucks in to this ultimate in satiating dishes will testify: there's no time for debate when you're trying to digest that lot..!

Wednesday, the Dragging of the Cloth
The main churches and cathedrals of the country are the stages for the ceremony of the Dragging of the Cloth. The ritual has its roots in Imperial Rome, when the army would pay homage to a general fallen in battle. During the Roman ceremony, the body of the general was covered with a black cloth, which was then passed over the bodies of the prostrate soldiers dressed in mourning. The idea was that the vitality and bravery of the general would pass from him to his soldiers through the cloth.

The Church appropriated the ceremony to honour Christ, and the cloth is passed around the Cathedral, over the faithful, so that the virtues of Jesus who died on the cross will pass to them. Father John says the ceremony should really take place days later, but that it's brought forward so as liberate the busy liturgical calendar.

Maundy Thursday, The 'Crismal' Mass; Jesus washes the feet of the Disciples; the Last Supper

The day that recalls the time of the Last Supper begins in most churches in Quito with the Via Crucis prayer and mass. Later on in the morning, Quito's cathedral holds the 'Crismal' mass, in which the archbishop and bishop of the city call on all the city's priests to attend a service in which they renew their priestly vows. They also bless the oils used for baptism and confirmation together. During this mass, the bishop - in the name of Jesus - receives the Eucharist along with all the priests present.

To receive communion and thus to receive Jesus Christ himself, masses are held all afternoon in the churches of the city. Following these masses, the seven monuments, in this case churches, are visited to recall the way of Jesus as he went from the hands of Herod to the governor Pilate. The churches of the historic centre adorn their altars with cloths, damasks, silverware and their finest treasures, and a tabernacle is placed in the church with a cup and hosts as a reminder that Jesus has been taken prisoner. After the six o'clock mass, the church bells are silenced, not to toll anew until Saturday, for the Easter Vigil in honour of Christ. Some 40 churches of Quito's Old Town will display all their finery on the evening of Maundy Thursday.

Good Friday, Sentencing and Death of Jesus Christ
Following the Via Crucis prayer in the morning, the religious community of Quito has only one thing on its mind: the great procession of Good Friday, which leaves from the church of San Francisco. Father John estimates that over the last years around 90,000 people have participated in the procession, not counting the tens of thousands of spectators who throng Quito's historic heart.

The procession begins at midday to recall the hour which Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to death. The hooded cucuruchos and the robed Verónicas are the traditional figures who accompany Jesús del Gran Poder (Jesus Almighty) and the Virgen Dolorosa (Virgin of Sorrows) on the procession which starts and ends at the San Francisco church and which passes through a large swathe of the historical centre.

The cucuruchos symbolise the penitents who, dressed in purple, show their repentance and their will to change. There are also many penitents carrying crosses, or with their feet chained, or even with real thorns wrapped around their heads. The Verónicas recall the woman who came to Jesus as He carried the cross, and who wiped His face full of sweat and blood (the origin of the Shroud of Turin). In Quito, the Verónicas also wear purple, their faces hidden by black shrouds.

The procession lasts until three in the afternoon, the hour of the death of the Lord, and the Descent from the Cross is performed at six in the evening, the hour at which the day ends in Jewish culture. In many churches, the ceremony of the Seven Words and of the Descent from the Cross is performed, where the priest narrates from his pulpit how the holy women and the Apostles performed the sepulchre of Christ. During the ceremony, especially designated faithful remove the nails from the image of the crucified Christ and pass his body to a group of waiting women wearing tunics who place him in a coffer adorned with flowers and white cloth. Following this, the procession with the dead Christ takes place, with the coffer held aloft by the Santos Varones (Saintly Men) who cover their heads with white turbans.

Saturday, the Easter Vigil
At three o'clock in the afternoon at the San Francisco Church, the ceremony of the Solitude of Mary is enacted. This liturgy lasts three hours and consists of prayers, songs and pleas dedicated to the Virgin who has lost her son. Following this, the Easter Vigil begins, with the blessing of the fire and the re-affirmation of religious vows. This is the Easter of Resurrection, since it represents the passing of Jesus from death to eternal life. Father John affirms the ceremony's beauty by describing the moving Easter Sermon, a passage from the Old Testament that refers to why Jesus had to suffer, die and be resurrected.

Easter Sunday, Day of Resurrection
On this day, also known as the Flowers of Easter because of the coming of Spring in the northern hemisphere, religious ceremonies return to their usual rhythm. It marks the end of Holy Week.

Easter Sunday is a particularly emblematic date in the bullfighting world, particularly in Spain, with bullfights held across the country attracting the greatest stars of the moment. Five foundations which work under the umbrella 'Unidos para Ayudar' (United to Help) make the most of this bullfighting tradition and celebration with a special event organised on Easter Sunday, featuring 'goyesca' bullfights, 'romería' processions and flamenco shows.

'Goyesca' bullfights are characterised by the colourful and elaborate costumes worn by the fighters. These mimic the ones designed by the great Spanish painter Francisco de Goya in the 18 th century. The day's events will begin with the romerías, with carriages and riders making their way in procession from the Hotel Quito to the Plaza Belmonte where Quito's bullring is located. The procession will start at 10 am and will take about an hour.

The event is all in aid of charity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article refers to Holy Week in Quito, however, similar events take place all throughout the country.

Text by Nadesha Montalvo Rueda, translated by Dominic Hamilton

Text and pictures courtesy of Corporación Metropolitana de Turismo de Quito